Apple Reveals a Virtual Home Button and a Cool New Way to Access your Apps without having to unlock your iDevice
On April 4, 2013, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals a new quick access feature allowing users to access a specific set of applications without having to enter an unlock security code on their future iDevices. In some cases the new user interface provides an animated feature that will roll the Unlock slider feature out of the way so as to reveal one or more rows of quick access apps. The invention also reveals that Apple is likely to adopt a new virtual home button that will extend the user interface right to the bottom of the iDevice. All in all, this is another cool feature that we could likely expect to see in future iDevices.
Apple's Patent Background
Computing devices often implement security measures to prevent unwanted or accidental access to applications, features, or information provided by the computing devices. Computing devices frequently store sensitive information that a user may not want other users to view. Users may also generally want to restrict access to their computing devices by other users as a matter of personal preference. Example security measures implemented on computing devices to prevent unwanted access include enforcing a security wall to prevent access to applications on the computing device unless a particular security input is received. Typically, a security code, password, or particular sequence of other inputs is required as a security input to access applications on a computing device when a security wall is implemented on the device.
Although enforcement of the security wall restricts unwanted access to applications on a computing device, the security wall also prevents the owner of the computing device from easily accessing applications on the computing device. In some instances, the user attempting to access the computing device is the owner of the computing device or an authorized user. Further, some applications on the computing device may be associated with private information while other applications have little or no private aspect.
New iDevice Quick Access to Applications Feature
Apple's patent is generally related to a method for providing quick access to applications on a computing device. A security wall is enforced with respect to applications on the computer, wherein enforcing the security wall includes preventing access to the applications until a security input is received. A predefined input is received through a home button on a touch-sensitive display of the computer. Access is provided to a particular application in response to receiving the predefined input, wherein providing access to the particular application includes allowing a user to access the particular application without receiving the security input from the user.
Implementations can include any or all of the following features. The home button includes a portion of the touch-sensitive display having both touch-sensitive and pressure-sensitive properties. The method further comprises receiving a second instance of the predefined input through the home button and providing access to a second application concurrently with providing access to the particular application, wherein providing access to the second application includes allowing a user to access the second application without receiving the security input from the user. The predefined input includes a first upward motion of a user in contact with the home button and a second upward motion of the user in contact with the home button within a particular amount of time.
Said another way, the user may bypass the sliding input or security screen by entering a predefined input using the home button 420 to enter a "quick access" mode of the mobile device in which certain applications may be immediately available to the user, regardless of whether a security wall may be enforced with respect to applications on the mobile device.
In some implementations, for example, touching the home button may trigger an animation to transition visual objects onto the touch-sensitive display. Each of the visual objects may represent an application available to the user without entering the sliding motion in the slider region or entering a security code.
Providing access to the particular application includes generating for display a visual object representing the particular application on the touch-sensitive display, wherein the visual object is displayed concurrently with a second visual object for bypassing the security wall. Providing access to the particular application includes allowing the user to access a first portion of the particular application while the security wall is enforced with respect to a remaining portion of the particular application.
The particular application includes at least one of a camera application, a remote controller for multimedia player application, a calculator application, a media player application, or a voice control application. The method further comprises receiving a second predefined input through the home button and presenting a login page for traversing the security wall. Enforcing the security wall occurs after the computer has concluded a full boot sequence. The method further comprises automatically waking the computer from a sleep mode in response to receiving the predefined input.
Quick Access Mode
Other applications may be available through the "quick access" mode of the mobile device 400. In some instances, for example, a user may designate the applications that are available in the "quick access" mode of the mobile device. Further, in some implementations, only a portion of an application may be available through the "quick access" mode while a remaining portion of the application is blocked from access until a security code is entered. For example, a user may access a camera application 410b using the predefined input at the home button 420 while the mobile device is still locked. The user may take new pictures using the camera application but may be prevented from viewing pictures previously taken using the camera application until the user enters a security code to bypass the security wall.
The preview of the visual objects 410 may appear after the minimum amount of time, and the user may perform the second part of the predefined input to bring the visual objects 410 fully into view, as illustrated in FIG. 4B. As depicted in FIG. 4B, the user may enter a quick access phase, after finishing the predefined input, in which the slider region 404 is removed and the visual objects 410a, 410b, 410c, and 410d are fully displayed. The user may then select one or more of the objects 410 to access the application represented by the object.
Apple's patent FIGS. 5A-5B noted above illustrates another example of quickly accessing certain applications on a mobile device through a home button 520 on the mobile device. A user may initiate access to a set of applications 510 by entering a first part of a predefined input, such as initiating contact with a home button 520.
As seen in FIG. 5A, the application objects 510a, 510b, 510c, and 510d are initially clustered in a group around the home button region after the user enters a first part of the predefined input on the home button. The user may complete the predefined input by entering the second part of the input, and in response, the cluster of application objects are expanded outward in a semi-circle pattern surrounding the home button, as illustrated in FIG. 5B.
In some instances, if the user does not complete the predefined input, such as by withdrawing contact with the home button, for example, the cluster of application objects may retract back into the region where the objects originated and disappear from view. When the application objects are expanded as in FIG. 5B, the user may select one of the objects to execute the application during "quick access" mode.
Animated User Interface
Associated with the new Quick Access design is the fact that the UI presents the sets of accessible apps via an animation process. According to Apple, "the animation of the application objects 610 appearing on the display 602 may also compress the slider region 604 right above the application objects, as depicted in FIG. 6B below.
As illustrated in FIG. 6C below, a user may enter another specific input using the home button to rotate the first set of application objects away while rotating in another set of application objects 630.
Possible Minor 3D Mode of Operation
As illustrated in FIG. 6C above, a user may enter another specific input using the home button 620 to rotate the first set of application objects away while rotating in another set of application objects 630.
Possible Rows of Quick Access Apps
Apple states that other implementations for allowing quick access to applications through certain inputs with a home button may also be used. As seen in FIG. 7 above, multiple rows of application objects 710 and 730 may be displayed concurrently using the home button 720.
A user may enter the predefined input a first time using the home button to bring up a first row of application objects. The user may bring up a second row of application objects by entering the same predefined input a second time using the home button. The animation of the process may slide the first row of application objects up while the second row of application objects up underneath the first row.
Apple credits Duncan Kerr and Nicholas King as the inventors of this patent application which was originally filed under serial number 251126 in Q3 2011. Patently Apple's report is based on Apple's "Detailed Description" segment presented in every patent application. To review Apple's patent claims, see Apple's patent filing. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing to market of such Apple features are unknown at this time.
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